Large-Scale Demonstration Underway in Tbilisi

Several thousand protesters have gathered in front of the old Parliament building on Rustaveli avenue to protest what they describe as “systemic” problems in the Prosecutor’s Office and the judiciary.

The demonstration follows Tbilisi City Court’s controversial ruling over the Khorava street incident last December, which left two 16 year-olds stabbed to death.

The Court’s acquittal of both suspects in the murder of one of the teenagers – Davit Saralidze, bolstered the existing doubts of the victim’s family that the Prosecutor’s Office had concealed some elements of the crime, and prompted a spontaneous rally in front of the Prosecutor’s Office.

The protesters, including students, public figures and opposition politicians, demanded Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze’s resignation, but his announcement did not end the demonstration. The protesters moved in front of the old Parliament building at around 7:30 pm, where they joined a parallel rally.

Addressing the protesters, Zviad Kuprava, one of the organizers of the rally, said Shotadze’s resignation was not enough for putting an end to the “illegal system based on violence.”

“Our only objective is to establish a free judiciary once and for all,” Kuprava announced, calling for the resignation of Secretary of the High Council of Justice Levan Murusidze, Tbilisi Court of Appeals Chairman Mikheil Chinchaladze and Supreme Court Chair Nino Gvenetadze.

Later, their demands have radicalized and included the resignation of Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s government. Kuprava also announced the establishment of a public group, which would select the new Chief Prosecutor and would be led by Zaza Saralidze.

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